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10 Benefits of 3-on-3 Basketball for Kids

With the rising popularity of 3-on-3 basketball, it’s important to explore the numerous benefits this format offers players of all ages. 

From skill development to improved fitness levels and enhanced teamwork, introducing kids to the benefits of 3-on-3 basketball can help them improve their game and gain confidence on the court. I cover the top 10 below.

  1. 3x more touches on the ball. Because fewer players are on the floor, each team member is engaged in every possession. This gives them more opportunities to shoot, pass, dribble, and rebound. In 5-on-5, players can go almost the whole game without touching the ball (especially at the youth level). Increased involvement accelerates skill development, which means your player will improve more (and faster) than those who hardly play or touch the ball in a 5-on-5 setting. 
  1. Easier to make decisions/enhanced court vision. Smaller team sizes mean players have more space to see and react. More options mean more decision-making opportunities which increases their basketball IQ. For youth especially, a congested 5-on-5 court can make seeing their teammates in a sea of jerseys difficult. 
  1. 4x more shot opportunities. Let’s be honest. Everyone loves to score! It’s exciting for fans and players alike. And it can be disheartening when your athlete rarely gets to shoot in a 5-on-5 setting. With more opportunities to take shots, players can refine their shooting techniques and develop a wider range of offensive moves. Additionally, playing in a smaller space enhances players’ ability to finish at the rim under pressure.
  1. 6x more passing situations than in 5-on-5. Less congestion makes it easier for players to see their teammates, making it more likely they’ll pass the ball. In addition, in 3-on-3, kids may be more likely to pass, knowing they’d get the ball back or at least have an opportunity to shoot relatively soon after. In 5-on-5, players who don’t touch the ball often shoot a bad shot for fear they might not get another chance. 
  1. Guaranteed playing time (and more playing time!). Sitting on the bench is never fun, which is often the case when we have 10+ kids on a team. And at the youth level, where the focus is usually on equal playing time, this may mean your child only gets into the game for a couple of short shifts each game. This can lead to less engagement and decreased motivation for kids who want to play. With 3-on-3, everyone plays, and you only ever have a maximum of two players subbing. As a result, players are more engaged and into the game, which makes them feel a big part of it!
  1. Promotes better communication (for older kids). 3-on-3 basketball emphasizes teamwork and effective communication. Players must work together closely to coordinate offensive plays, defensive rotations, and help-side defense. This promotes better communication skills and enhances players’ ability to understand and adapt to their teammates’ strengths and weaknesses.
  1. Develops understanding of team dynamics and roles. In a 3-on-3 setting, each player’s contributions directly impact the team’s success. Even for young kids, this understanding of team dynamics helps foster a sense of responsibility and accountability among players.
  1. Promotes decision-making and problem-solving. Limited time and space require quick thinking and adaptation. 3-on-3 basketball challenges players to make split-second decisions. With limited time and space, players must adapt to changing situations, read the defense, and make smart choices. This improves their problem-solving skills and ability to execute effective strategies under pressure. In addition, we do not allow coaches in our leagues, so kids are forced to make their own decisions versus looking to an adult for answers or running a play out of memory. 
  1. Easier to learn the game and different positions. In 3-on-3, every player gets to play every position. Players develop all skills in this format versus just “position-specific” skills. This encourages every player to pass, dribble, rebound, and shoot in multiple areas of the court.
  1. More fun for parents and players! No coaches yelling at the kids allows them to let go of everything and PLAY. They don’t have to be perfect; they don’t have to remember strategy; they don’t have to be told what to do. This is the most important benefit of 3-on-3 basketball. The game is fun and fast-paced, and you get the ball more, you shoot more, and you have the chance to fall in love with the game WHILE developing your skills. It’s fun for parents, too! Every parent likes to see their child get plenty of opportunities to be involved in the action, and 3-on-3 is the perfect opportunity for that!

The benefits of 3-on-3 basketball serve as the catalyst for the rapid growth we’re witnessing in the sport, appealing to both the novice and elite.

In 2020, we saw our first-ever 3-on-3 basketball tournament in the Olympics. In 2021, our local Seattle Storm announced its partnership with four other WNBA teams to expand its Women’s Professional 3×3 program.  And at the youth level, we’re seeing a surge in 3-on-3 leagues and tournaments as a response to the dire need for our country to rediscover the value of recreational sports and playing purely for FUN!